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Paul Bunyan Mall sold to New Jersey company

The Paul Bunyan Mall has been sold.

Lexington Realty International purchased the mall from DDR Corp. on Monday.

"The charm of smaller markets appeal to us," Alan Retkinski, the president of Lexington Realty, told the Pioneer Wednesday afternoon.

Lexington Realty International, a New Jersey-based company, purchased Brainerd's Westgate Mall in November 2011, also from DDR Corp. Following that sale, several new tenants entered the Westgate Mall, including Big Lots and Dunham's Sports.

Similarly, Retkinski said Lexington Realty plans to add tenants into the Paul Bunyan Mall.

"We're looking to fill all the vacancies in the mall," he said, adding that the vacancy left by Kmart's exit last fall is a priority. "Typically, we try to turn malls around fairly quickly."

Lori Paris, president of the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, said she believes a fresh approach will be good for Bemidji's mall.

"That's exactly what we need," she said. "We need a new approach, some fresh, energetic blood."

In addition to creating a robust shopping center with a range of tenants, Retkinski said Lexington Realty also is interested in creating a Paul Bunyan Mall that is a "destination" for families, with a play area for children, comfortable seating areas and free WiFi.He encouraged anyone with store suggestions and ideas to email the company at

"We would love to hear voices from the community," Retkinski said.

The current mall-management staff at Paul Bunyan Mall will remain in place.

"The people who are there are spectacular," he said.

Paul Bunyan Mall will host an event at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 14 to welcome the new owners to the community and hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"We look forward to a bright new future under the direction of Lexington Realty International," said Susan Goudge, mall manager.